When Daisy Holzapfel arrived at her new school in 1939, she had just left her whole life behind.

The 14-year-old was one 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children who fled Nazi Europe on what became known as the Kindertransport.

The headteacher of the Dorchester school asked local girl Louise to help the newcomer settle in – and the pair became firm friends.

In later interviews Daisy said she was very happy and felt welcome at the school even though “they had never seen a foreigner before”.

“I had no regrets, I didn’t feel homesick, and I didn’t want to speak German. All I wanted to be was an English schoolgirl, in my school uniform, riding my bicycle.”

Ham & High: Daisy and Louise were in the same class at Dorset County School for Girls in 1939Daisy and Louise were in the same class at Dorset County School for Girls in 1939 (Image: credit: Daisy Hoffner/BeaLewkowiczarchive)

Interviewed together years later, Louise says: “I knew she came from Berlin and the family had to leave everything behind, which seemed to me terrible, but I didn’t know what Jewish was living in Dorchester. I remember she wanted to lose her German accent, and we would walk home together and practise words.”

With help from Daisy’s Quaker sponsors, her parents Kurt and Erna managed to leave Berlin and join her in Dorset.

But when the British Government designated all German-born residents ‘enemy aliens,’ the family had to move from the idyllic village of Milton Abbas.

Kurt was interned in several enemy alien camps, and Daisy and her mother lived in boarding houses around Finchley Road. Meanwhile Louise joined the Wrens at 18 and served in Scotland, where she was responsible for explosives.

Ham & High: Daisy and Louise as teenagersDaisy and Louise as teenagers (Image: Daisy Hoffner/BeaLewkowiczarchive)

The girls lost touch until Daisy and Louise ended up living on the same Belsize Park street in the 1970s.

But for 26 years they were unaware of the connection because Louise had changed her hated first name and got married, and they didn’t recognise each other.

As Daisy said years later: “Somebody from deepest Dorset ending up in Glenilla Road seemed too unlikely!”

Oral historian, photographer and filmmaker Dr Bea Lewkowicz interviewed both women in 2003, which she has now turned into a film: Daisy and Louise.

She said: “Louise was the English girl asked to take care of Daisy when she arrived at Dorchester County School for Girls. They became close friends for nine months until Daisy moved to London, and they lost contact.

“Years later these two women happened to live on the same street for years and years without recognising each other – they were both very active Belsize residents, and Louise even did some gardening for Daisy, but the topic never came up.

“It was only when Louise invited Daisy to a dinner party that they realised they had been to the same school. After that they became very close friends again until the end.”

Bea herself grew up in Germany, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and happened to live opposite Daisy, who died in 2019. Louise died in 2014 at the age of 90.

As part of commemorations to mark 85 years since the Kindertransport, she is giving a talk at Belsize Library on Thursday May 16 which will be attended by Daisy’s daughter Michele Hoffner, and Louise’s son, Tom Pennington Legh.

“I interviewed them together to tell their extraordinary story. I have been sitting on this footage for many years and finally made this film,” says Bea.

“How it’s possible to be neighbours and never talk about the past is amazing.

“But the film is a beautiful record of a Kindertransport and the English girl who helped her to start a new life, who found each other again many years later and stayed neighbours until the end of their lives.

“It was my privilege to interview them and tell their story.”

As co-founder of the AJR Refugee Voices Testimony Archive Bea has captured interviews with 300 Holocaust survivors including 85 who arrived on the Kinderstransport.

“It’s ongoing,” she adds. “I am still interviewing people all over the UK including a 103-year-old. People still want to give their testimony.”